Career Path

Trendsetters in the luxury goods sector

by Wing Kei

Vincent Tse, director, Wiselink Group

The right brand name can make a big difference

While the luxury goods sector in Asia is rebounding strongly, it remains fiercely competitive. Consumers with money to spend on high-quality brand name products are as demanding as ever. They want the chance to choose between products with a distinctive classical look and those which represent the most up-to-date fashions, as well as to feel there is something unique about whatever they buy.

In recognising this, Wiselink Group has been able to establish a special niche for itself in the local market. The company is a distributor of luxury and lifestyle products including eyewear, jewellery and fashion accessories. It now has an expanding distribution network and is focusing on building brand loyalty to its name and products.

"We have also formed alliances with overseas partners supplying a range of products," says Vincent Tse, director of Wiselink. "This includes forming an alliance with Holemans, a prestigious Belgian jeweller, and other well-known brands such as Eye Eye World and Compass Marketing Communications. We want to have an A-grade platform to sell products which meet the unique needs of sophisticated customers."

The company prefers to have a series of partnerships to promote different brands for each main area of their business. By doing this, they have seen steady expansion and have been able to win recognition for what they offer in the luxury end of the market. "This deliberate differentiation has helped us to promote separate brands for eyewear, jewellery and accessories and allowed us to lead fashion trends," says Mr Tse.

Customer categories

He adds that, for jewellery, the company is extending its product range and concentrating on three key categories of customer, known as royal, elegance and "new mids" (new middle class). "We don't classify women customers by their age any more, as that is no longer the best way of judging what kind of jewellery they will buy," he explains.

Mr Tse believes that the current prospects for the luxury and lifestyle business are excellent. In particular, he notes the increased spending power of the middle-income group. "The disposable income of people in Asia, especially in China, is rising and many more can afford luxury products and want to buy them," he says.

In order to capitalise on this, products are designed and modified to suit the styles and preferences of consumers in different Asian markets. This is done with the help of a team of professionals with product development skills and solid sales experience. The process also involves detailed market research before final decisions are taken.

"In the past, people looked towards Europe as the leader in fashion trends. It is still important, however, designers are now more willing to get new insights from China to tailor-make something suitable for this rising market. Hong Kong, on the other hand, remains as important as ever with its "East meet West" status. "I am proud of the local talent who help to further this reputation," Mr Tse says.

Registering and launching any new brand or product in China is still seen as a major challenge and the full costs of a campaign can sometimes be more than in Hong Kong. However, it is viewed as an essential investment and a necessary strategy for any company in the luxury goods sector.

Special skills

Wiselink now has about 50 staff split between their Hong Kong and mainland offices. They have plans to recruit and are looking for people with expertise in any of the areas in which they specialise. Knowledge of the luxury goods industry is a prerequisite.

"Suitable candidates would need to understand the market and the latest trends," says Mr Tse. "We would expect people in marketing roles to have contact with customers, so they can remain fully aware of what sells and what is in fashion. Generally, we are looking for ability and problem-solving skills rather than any specific academic qualifications."

He also notes that designers with solid experience, creativity and good presentation skills are in great demand in the jewellery sector. They are also expected to be conscientious, aware of popular tastes and able to incorporate elements of both Chinese and Western culture in their work.

Mr Tse adds that these talents must be allied with intelligence, integrity, independence and an "I can do it" attitude. "They must definitely be passionate about their work because one of our policies is to offer rewards which are based on good performance," he says.

Fashion sense

  • Company specialises in the luxury goods and lifestyle sector
  • Main areas are eyewear, jewellery and fashion accessories
  • Separate alliances are formed with key overseas partners for each product type
  • Different items can be either designed or modified to suit customer preferences
  • The China market is growing fast and becoming a major influence on fashion trends
  • Recruits with relevant experience are needed particularly for marketing and design roles

Taken from Career Times 26 August 2005
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